Business Support

Invisible Disability Friendly Businesses

Becoming an Invisible Disabilities Friendly Business

In Australia there are more than two million people who suffer from Invisible Disabilities. Frequently people with invisible disabilities find it extremely difficult to communicate their needs to those in the community who may be able to assist them. Consequently, they often feel isolated and afraid to go out.

Invisible Disabilities Australia is working closely with national associations, peak bodies, government agencies, airports and tourist venues across Australia to promote access for all people with disabilities. Overseas there is a surge of support from large and small companies realising the advantages to their business of supporting all disabilities. Most people know someone or have a family member with a condition requiring support and are choosing to support inclusive businesses.

Through becoming an Invisible Disabilities friendly business, you are joining a growing movement towards making the world a safer, kinder place and in the process you will increase your client base with people who appreciate what you do.

What is an Invisible Disability?

The term invisible disabilities include anything that significantly impairs normal activities of daily living or that may lead you to require special assistance that may not be immediately apparent to others. Sometimes, these circumstances can result in abuse and negative feedback from members of the community who are unaware of this disability.

What can your business do?

We need your business team to be trained to recognise our Invisible Disabilities Australia Access Card and lanyard. For example, if someone is wearing our lanyard they may show you their toilet card rather than needing to ask to use your staff or non-public toilet. This avoids the often humiliating process of having to explain they need special support and why.

By becoming an Invisible Disabilities friendly business, you demonstrate your recognition of the needs of our invisible disability community and give people the confidence to feel safe visiting your business. This Is done by simply displaying our logo in your shop window and training your staff to understand the needs of our card holders and wear our badges.

What our Cardholders Need – ‘Do you need assistance?’

Our cardholders simply need your staff to ask if there is anything they may do to assist them, and to treat them with the respect they would show to a wheelchair user. Their disability is often just beneath the surface. Cardholders may have different messages on the back of their cards to communicate different needs. The Invisible Disabilities Australia Access Card and lanyard provides evidence that cardholders may need assistance and outlines the nature of that the assistance.

Cardholders may choose to wear their card and lanyard out of sight and show only if required. We believe they should not have to explain what their invisible disability is unless they wish to. Our ‘No Need to Explain’ access card does the explaining for them!

The Invisible Disabilities Australia Access Card and lanyard initiative is being promoted throughout Australia. We welcome your support through our ‘Spread the Word – No Need to Explain’ campaign.

Easy Access to Toilets

Your support means if our card and lanyard holders visit your business and have a ‘toilet need’ indicated on the reverse of their Access Card, you will be happy to let them use your staff or non-public toilet. Please note, not all card holders require toilet access.

It also means you are working towards having your toilet provide; a hook, a waist high shelf and a mirror. Once this minimum requirement has been established, you can apply to us for our Modified Toilet sign to display on your toilet and on your shop window If you wish. This will let our card holders know they can use your toilet and they can feel safe to use it because it will meet their needs.

United Kingdom- experience

It’s inspiring to see that in the UK, businesses, airports and government regulators have already committed to understanding the needs of the Invisible Disability community and have instigated the following for invisible disability inclusion:

  • recognition and response to lanyards and cardholders needs
  • clearly visible signage for facilities and support
  • high visibility of support staff (badges)
  • staff trained in sensitive identification and support
  • modified toilet design


  • Marks and Spencers all new UK stores
  • Morrisons UK             492       stores across the United Kingdom
  • Tesco                         700       stores
  • Asda UK                    421       toilets
  • Waitrose                     149      stores
  • Sainsbury’s                  38       stores announced in 2019


The following details outline the Civil Aviation Authority industry guidelines on assisting passengers with invisible disabilities. The CAA guidelines make it clear that airlines need the right procedures in place to assist such passengers.

Specifically, airlines should:

  • Have a clear and accessible pre-notification system in place allowing passengers to request special assistance at the point of booking.
  • Share information about a passenger’s assistance needs within their own organisation and with the airport and ground handling agents.
  • Ensure a passenger with a hidden disability is seated with a travelling companion at no extra cost.
  • Invest in quality training for staff so hidden disabilities can be identified and passengers assisted accordingly.
  • Ensure passengers with hidden disabilities are looked after in the event of flight delays and cancellations.